USPS Can't Buy All-Electric Delivery Fleet Due to Money Woes, DeJoy Says

The U.S. Postal Service can't yet follow through on its commitment to buying and using an all-electric delivery fleet because of its "dire financial condition," Postmaster General and USPS Chief Executive Officer Louis DeJoy said in a statementSunday.

Instead, the service is initially ordering 5,000 electric vehicles, with "the flexibility to increase the number of electric vehicles introduced should additional funding become available."

"Absent such funding, we must make fiscally responsible decisions that result in the needed introduction of safer and environmentally cleaner vehicles for the men and women who deliver America's mail," the statement read.

DeJoy, who assumed the postmaster general role in June of 2020, has become the subject of backlash for the USPS' decision to update its delivery fleet with mostly gasoline-powered vehicles rather than electric. The EPA and White House Council on Environmental Quality sent letters to the USPS last week asking the service to reconsider its plans and conduct a new environmental analysis of the contract for the vehicles, the Washington Post reported.

"The Postal Service's proposal as currently crafted represents a crucial lost opportunity to more rapidly reduce the carbon footprint of one of the largest government fleets in the world," Vicki Arroyo, the EPA's associate administrator for policy, wrote in the agency's letter.

One of President Joe Biden's goals is to transition all federal cars and trucks to clean power, but since USPS vehicles account for one-third of the government's fleet, the agency's contract could potentially derail the objective, the Post reported.

Some politicians have cited the USPS' decision on gas-powered vehicles in calling for DeJoy to be ousted. Representative Gerry Connolly of Virginia, chair of the House Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations, was among them.

"Louis DeJoy plans to spend billions on gas-powered vehicles despite clear goals set by @POTUS and Congress to electrify the federal fleet. I want a full examination of this contract, and I am pursuing a legislative remedy," Connolly tweeted on February 2. "But DeJoy has to go right now."

New Jersey Representative Bill Pascrell Jr. also criticized the USPS' plans under DeJoy.

"Over a year ago I called for louis dejoy and the entire trump postal board to be fired. Dejoy and his enablers should be removed and thrown into the street for what they've done to your post office. Enough is enough," his February 2 tweet read.

The USPS said in its statement that it is still committed to working with stakeholders, including the EPA and Congress, "as it pursues the fiscally responsible implementation of its Next Generation Delivery Vehicle (NGDV) program." The program "is designed to introduce safer and more environmentally friendly vehicles and works towards the electrification of its delivery fleet as quickly as resources and infrastructure will allow," the statement added.

Newsweek reached out to the EPA for comment.

Update 2/8/2022 4:00 p.m.: This article was updated with additional background information on the USPS and debate surrounding plans to update the delivery fleet.

The U.S. Postal Service can't yet follow through on its commitment to buy and use an all-electric delivery fleet because of its "dire financial condition," Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said in a statement on Tuesday. Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images